How to waterproof a tent: Camping Basics

Irrespective of whether you have a new tent at your disposal or simply an old tent that still remains strong and sturdy, one of the basic how -to’s of camping involves knowing how to waterproof a tent. You never know what the weather may have in store for you.

How to waterproof a tent – the steps

Step 1:

Make sure that the tent fabric is completely clean and dry. Otherwise your layer of waterproof spray will wear off very fast. Also, make sure to wear a nice strong set of gloves. This is so that your skin doesn’t have allergic reactions. Then, simply set up your tent as you usually do. Preferably in a clean area that usually remains undisturbed as the tent will be up for at least one entire day.

Step 2:

Simply take a good waterproofing spray and shake it a good few times. All you have to do then is spray generously all along the length and surface area of the tent fabric. Using a sideways motion and make sure that every inch of it is covered with the waterproofing spray.

For best results, start spraying from the top and then gradually move down to the bottom of the tent. When you are doing this, make sure that you are paying extra attention to more vulnerable regions like the seams, the door, the floor as well as the tent fly.

One of the things that you have to be careful about, is selecting the kind of waterproofing spray that you actually want to use. Because it varies from one kind of fabric to another. For instance, acrylic canvas tents need a completely different kind of waterproof spray than your average tents.

Waterproofing a canvas tent:

Canvas waterproofing, as the name suggests, is applied especially to tents that are made of canvas fabric. Most canvas tents initially tend to be waterproof, but it soon wears off. Petroleum based canvas sprays tend to be the best, but they have a slightly pungent smell. On the other hand, fluoropolymer canvas sprays are the best and most durable.

When using a canvas waterproofing spray, always do a patch test first to see how it reacts with the material. It will save you a lot of unnecessary trouble later on. Also, make sure that you do it outside since most canvas waterproofing spray tend to be strong.

Unlike normal waterproofing, canvas waterproofing spray needs a second layer after the first one has dried completely. Always make sure to use a tarp on the floor of your tent to prevent water leaking into it.

How to Waterproof your Tent’s Zippers, Coatings and Seams:

When tents are sold, most of them have seams that are already sealed from before with the help of some seam tape. However, after prolonged use, you may find that the seam tape no longer holds, which makes the seams more vulnerable to wear and tear.

In order to fix this, all you need to do is gently remove whichever bits and pieces of the seal tapes are falling off. Then apply some new seam sealer on that area. Make sure you do this along the outside of the fabric as some of the remnants of the sealer will be left behind on the inside.

It is very easy to determine whether your tent needs a new layer of waterproofing. Put the tent up and check if the inside of the waterproofing layer has started to flake. In that case, all you need to do is simply put on a fine layer of paint on polyurethane waterproof sealant.

However, if the inside of the tent has developed a nasty smell and the floor has been compromised, then perhaps it is time for you to invest in an entirely new tent.

Things to remember when waterproofing a tent:

Most sealants and waterproofing materials need a solid 24 hours to dry. So, when you are doing this, make sure to place your tent in a place where it won’t be disturbed or toppled over.

Make sure your tent is clean and dry before you waterproof it or else the dirt will be sealed into the layer.
Under no circumstances should you EVER use a washing machine to clean your tent, because it will damage the fabric faster than you can say leaky tent.

The best way to determine if your tent has holes, is to submerge it in water. If air bubbles surface, then you know exactly which area needs your special attention.

Also, a lot of tents do not happen to be resistant to UV lights, which means that the whole waterproofing process has to be done in a shaded area.

So thats how to waterproof a tent!

Have more waterproofing tips and ideas to share with us? Then simply let us know what you think by leaving a comment in the section below!